For Families & Patients

Palliative care supports people with a life-limiting illness and their families to live, die and grieve well.

Grief & loss

Walking in the parkGrief is a natural response when facing a life limiting illness and the death of someone you love. Each person experiences grief in their own way. It can change from day to day and over time. There is no right or wrong way.

For example, you may:

  • have strong feelings – such as shock, anger, sadness, anxiety, panic, etc.
  • be confused or have difficulty thinking
  • find it hard to understand or accept the situation
  • worry about what will happen or have strange dreams
  • feel very tired, lose your appetite, find it hard to sleep or feel unwell.

These are normal responses to grief. Your experience of grief will change as you learn to live with your loss. This may take a few or many months, depending on the person.

What helps

  • Take time to reflect on what has happened
  • Find a good listener and talk about the person you have lost and how they contributed to your life
  • Don’t expect too much of yourself and don’t make big decisions too soon
  • Be good to yourself physically and emotionally
  • If you are feeling anxious, it may help to write down your thoughts
  • A support group for bereaved carers or counselling may help
  • If you feel depressed, consult your doctor.

Helping people who are grieving

  • Let the person know you are sorry about their loss, keep in regular contact and be a good listener.
  • Practical help, such as cooked meals, may be welcome.
  • Provide comfort when they are upset. Be there for them on special days.
  • Continue to invite the person to events and activities, even if they decline.
  • Be aware that there are cultural differences in how people respond to grief.

Things that are NOT helpful include:

  • avoiding the person who is grieving
  • telling them you know how they feel – each person experiences grief differently
  • changing the subject or trying to cheer them up
  • trying to find something positive about the person’s death
  • telling the person how to grieve or that it is time to get over it.
  • Fred & Jim's Story

    Fred and Jim talk about how they have coped with grief and loneliness after the death of their wives. Duration 16 minutes.

    Play Podcast
  • How to help someone who is grieving
  • Helping others cope with grief